This article addresses the question of identity. When immigrants move from their countries of origin to their countries of destination they go through a process of psychological and social change that may lead to a change of loyalty. Muslim immigrants coming into Canada are no exception. Different immigrants, individuals and groups, behave differently. The space allowed for this article is too limited to even scratch the surface of their stories.
One group of Muslim immigrants, however, attracts my attention. I call them “pigerabs.” The pigerab is a word coined by me from “pigeon” and “rabbit”, it tells the storey of a pigeon who wanted to be a rabbit but he never quite made it. To begin with, we should ask ourselves about “why” he wanted to change. We can think of three possible answers: 1) he is not happy with himself as a pigeon (push force), 2) he is attracted to some qualities in rabbits (pull force), or 3) he was under the two forces working simultaneously.
The push force may be related to how he sees himself as a ground of mites and flees. He might feel guilty that his droppings bite humans and infest or spoil food products. He may feel rejected in any city he flies to because his acidic droppings erode the surface of stonework. The push force may include also his perceived image of his body as a blocker of gutters and rainwater pipes. He may also be too sensitive to the response of pedestrians walking on slippery sidewalk because of his droppings which he can’t control anyway. He is also scared of those environmentalists who come up with new pest control tricks every year.
The “pull” force may include the pigeon’s dreams of having the qualities of rabbits: clean, docile, and intelligent. He may want to change lifestyle and eating habits of warm dry hutch and clean wholesome food of rabbit’s pellets supported with grass hay and garden vegetables. He loves wearing a new suit every year; rabbits shed their coats and grow a new one every year.
In his decision to become a rabbit, the pigeon did not realize that he was made to be a pigeon not a rabbit. He realized this fact firsthand when he went once to join a party with the pigeons but they rejected him because he did not look a hundred percent like pigeons and he looked a little bit like a rabbit. So, he decided to join the rabbits’ party. Again he was rejected; some rabbits even made jokes on his funny appearance. The poor pigeon was confused. He didn’t know where to go and to whom he should turn.
Going lonely in the street he saw another half-pigeon-half -rabbit-creature equally suffering from the identity crises. They went together to the “pigerabs’ corner with tears in their eyes wondering about what they made of themselves.
This is the storey of our friend: the pigerab. In science, the equivalent of pigerab is the Marginal Man. According to the science of sociology, you are Marginal Man if you don’t belong to the group you come from on one hand and you don’t belong to the group you are going to on the other hand. In both groups you are pushed away from the two centers and forced one way to the margins. To protect Muslims from the identity crisis, the Glorious Qur’an (41:33) gives them crystal clear instructions to declare their identity : I AM A MUSLIM.
Dr. Saleh’s articles are published first in al-Ameen and then posted on www.muslimeducators.com ; he may be reached at email@example.com